Yilda SanchezAlfred Hitchcock in AmericaDr. Sullivan7 December 2017″To Sound or no Sound”In Hitchcock’s own words: “I think what sound brought of value to the cinema was to complete the realism of the image on the screen. It made everyone in the audience deaf mutes.” Because he is known for his visual techniques, Alfred Hitchcock’s unique use of sound is a topic which does not receive the attention it deserves. This is what this paper will try to accomplish, to explain why his unique use of sound deserves so much attention. Sound is an important element in Hitchcock’s techniques. This created and amplified the suspense in the scene tremendously and it was a way to express character emotion. He uses surrounding sounds to amplify whatever feelings the character in the scene is feeling. Song use was often used as a suspense device by Hitchcock. In The Lady Vanishes (1938) the secrets Miss Froy has imprinted on her mind are in the form of a tune that she has to sing in order for it to be decoded. Most of Hitchcock’s classics include the technique of music in this unique fashion. He also makes great use of whistling, humming, singing, and even playing the piano. Each character was carefully directed and coached by Hitchcock to add this form of musical activity in order to evoke suspense. Dialogue is used a form of careful expression in his films. The act of talking was never fully important to Hitchcock, as he used other ways to reveal the story visually in other ways. Perhaps this is due to his particular fondness of his earlier silent films? Instead of revealing an important component is a scene with dialogue, Hitchcock was able to master this by using a glance, a close-up, a reaction, a body movement, and the list can go on. Projecting internal thoughts as voice-overs was also a Hitchcock favorite. In one of his later films, The Birds (1963), the scene where Melanie is smoking a cigarette out in school playground. The school children singing creates an eerie and uncomfortable feeling for the audience. It builds up a tremendous amount of suspense in the scene. In my opinion, this was Alfred Hitchcock’s best use of sound yet. It was absolutely beautifully and expertly done; making it an unforgettable scene. The use of sound in music is also incredible in Hitchcock’s, Psycho (1960). In his own words he stated the following: “If Psycho had been intended as a serious picture, it would have been shown as a clinical case with no mystery or suspense.  The material would have been used as the documentation of the case history.  We’ve already mentioned that total plausibility and authenticity merely add up to a documentary.” Hitchcock was dogmatic about the dramatic innuendos and sequences that the functions of sound and music created. He often interwove his suggestions into the screenplay even! Sound was so important to Hitchcock that no matter how much Hitchcock trusted his composer and sound mixer, he always dictated detailed notes for the dubbing of sound effects and the placement of music. Everything needed to be perfect in the eyes or in this case ears of Hitchcock. His meticulous and perfectionist ways are definitely evident in his films. In Psycho, Hitchcock wanted “no music at all though the motel sequence”. Hermann, the person behind most of Hitchcock’s films scores, at first did not quite understand where Hitchcock was going with this. Hitchcock was so pleased with the “black and white” score use of only the cello and violin and he dubbed it a masterpiece. Hermann found it peculiar that Hitchcock did not wish for an percussion but after the film was completed. He realized that the meticulous way Hitchcock wanted the score created an eerie and unnerving suspense that the film needed.The simplistic style of having an all-star game musical score reflects the black and white images. This unique sound created a suspense like none other in the film. Hitchcock maintains this suspense in the anti-climatic parts of the film. An example being when the Marion steals a large amount of money. When Marion leaves town with said cash in her car, the fast-paced violin sounds create a lot of nerves for the audience. This musical style appears every time he uses the stolen money. A similar musical score is used in the Bate’s house scene. The high pitched violin sounds can be assumed to symbolize her fear in this scene.. As Arbogast approaches the Bates’ house, he’s accompanied only by low and distant cello sounds. The score switches to violin chords when there seems to be innate danger coming ahead. Viewers can presume the intensified violin sounds signal violence is soon to follow. Which is in fact true when Marion’s sister goes down into the Bates’ cellar. As she walks towards the figure in the chair, the music remains the same, suggesting that no danger will occur. Lila discovers that Norman’s mother is really a dead body, the music remains the same.  When she screams, the violins play at the same time as if on cue. Hitchcock loved replacing actual screams with the sound of a whistle, an inanimate object, or in this case violins. Psycho symbolizes the importance film techniques in this genre, but also the sound strategies Hitchcock mastered so effortlessly. Suspense relies immensely on these two categories and by using both, Hitchcock draws in audiences until this day. As I watch horror films of today’s day and age it’s evident that directors/filmmakers still use Hitchcock’s famous blueprint/techniques for an instant favorite with the audience. Hitchcock is truly the master of suspense and he probably will always be the originator of many techniques and themes still used in horror films today.  Without the influence of Hitchcock most horror films today would be completely different. Hollywood really has to be appreciative for that. Hitchcock’s move to America was the biggest blessing the genre of suspense/horror could have ever received. The undeniable wit and passion he demonstrated when creating each film is evident and one can understand how a whole college class can be created based on his genius. In closing, Hitchcock was truly a genius and created films that were timeless. Meaning that they would never go out of date or stop being any less suspenseful. We truly owe Hitchcock a “thank you” and a “great work”. 

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